Research: The Different Versions of The Hero’s Journey

 

Act Campbell (1949) David Adams Leeming (1981) Phil Cousineau (1990) Christopher Volger (2007)
I. Departure 1. The Call to Adventure
2. Refusal of the Call
3. Supernatural Aid
4. Crossing the Threshold
5. Belly of the Whale
1. Miraculous conception and birth
2. Initiation of the hero-child
3. Withdrawal from family or community for meditation and preparation
1. The Call to Adventure 1. The Ordinary World
2. The Call to Adventure
3. Refusal of the Call
4. Meeting with the Mentor
5. Crossing the Threshold to the Special World
II. Initiation 6. The Road of Trials
7. The Meeting with the Goddess
8. Woman as Temptress
9. Atonement with the Father
10. Apotheosis
11. The Ultimate Boon
4. Trial and Quest
5. Death
6. Descent into the underworld
2. The Road of Trials
3. The Vision Quest
4. The Meeting with the Goddess
5. The Boon
6. Tests, Allies and Enemies
7. Approach to the Innermost Cave
8. The Ordeal
9. Reward
III. Return 12. Refusal of the Return
13. The Magic Flight
14. Rescue from Without
15. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
16. Master of Two Worlds
17. Freedom to Live
7. Resurrection and rebirth
8. Ascension, apotheosis, and atonement
6. The Magic Flight
7.The Return Threshold
8.The Master of Two Worlds
10. The Road Back
11. The Resurrection
12. Return with the Elixir

Campbell’s seventeen stages

The following is a more detailed account of Campell’s original 1949 exposition of the monomyth in 17 stages.

Departure

The Call to Adventure

The hero begins in a mundane situation of normality from which some information is received that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.

Refusal of the Call

Often when the call is given, the future hero first refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.

Supernatural Aid

Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears or becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans or artifacts that will aid him later in his quest.

Crossing the Threshold

This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.

Belly of the Whale

The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis.

Initiation

The Road of Trials

The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

The Meeting with the Goddess

This is the point when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely.

Woman as Temptress

In this step, the hero faces those temptations, often of a physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him or her to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.

Atonement with the Father

In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving into this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power.

Apotheosis

When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.

The Ultimate Boon

The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.

Return

Refusal of the Return

Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.

The Magic Flight

Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.

Rescue from Without

Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, oftentimes he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.

Campbell: “The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him. For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of the wakened state. ‘Who having cast off the world,’ we read, ‘would desire to return again? He would be only there.’ And yet, in so far as one is alive, life will call. Society is jealous of those who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the door. If the hero. . . is unwilling, the disturber suffers an ugly shock; but on the other hand, if the summoned one is only delayed—sealed in by the beatitude of the state of perfect being (which resembles death)—an apparent rescue is effected, and the adventurer returns.”

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.

Master of Two Worlds

This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.

Freedom to Live

Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

The above information is crucial for my infographic because I have to have a good understand of what exactly the hero’s journey is before I attempt to represent it. In terms of picking the version of the hero’s journey that was best for my infographic I had a difficult decision to make. Initially I wanted to to Joseph Campbell’s version but when I saw just how many steps there was I thought that wouldn’t give me the room I needed for my illustrations within my lay out and could result in the image overall looking very cluttered and difficult to read and understand. Because of this I opted for the version of the hero’s journey that I thought was next best. This was Christopher Volger’s version and I thought with the 12 steps of journey, and what each step was named, I thought I could do some good visual representations of all the stages of that model. I didn’t really agree with David Adam Leeming’s version and thought that Phil Cousineau’s version was perhaps too simplified.

References:

Volger, C. (2009). The Hero’s Journey Outline. The Writer’s Journey. Retrieved from: http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero%27s_journey.htm

 

 

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One comment

  1. Hey Rupert. This really brings me back to my Image and Sound glory days. I think this is a great topic and I look forward to seeing you tackle the process as an infographic. I think you may want to somehow find a way to simplify the process as I feel a process with this many steps may be hard to convey in a way that is seamless and easy on the eye. However I have full faith in your Illustrator ability and know you will come up with something great, keep it up champ.

    Like

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